The 10 Most Promising Indie Film Directors Working Today

5. Jennifer Kent

Essie Davis - “The Babadook”

Austrailian director Jennifer Kent gained acclaim with her first directorial effort in 2014 with The Babadook. The film completely avoids jump scares and gore but utilizes real terror to frighten the audience. The film is almost unbearably tense at times, and this is a real credit to the skill of Kent. The filmmaker directs great performances from her cast and paces the movie perfectly.

The Babadook was critically acclaimed and garnered Jennifer Kent worldwide recognition. The director’s next project will likely be the thriller The Nightingale, and she has been rumored to be in the running to join the MCU at the helm of Captain Marvel.


4. Jeremy Saulnier

green room

Jeremy Saulnier may not be a household name yet, but the director has made two of the best action thrillers in recent years with Blue Ruin (2013) and Green Room (2016). Making his start with the horror-comedy Murder Party, which is silly fare compared to his next two films, which are dark explorations of vengeance and violence.

Blue Ruin and Green Room are simple and straightforward in terms of plot, but both feature finely crafted cinematic techniques, great performances and subversion of the genre. Saulnier looks to take on more high profile projects in coming years and could be a staple in action cinema in the near future.


3. Robert Eggers

The Witch

Eggers burst onto the scene with The Witch at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, for which he won the festival’s Best Director prize. He had previously worked as a production designer, and directed the short films Hansel and Gretel and The Tell-Tale Heart.

When The Witch had its wide theatrical release in 2016, it received great critical notices, but a mixed audience response. This lukewarm reaction could be due to the audiences expecting a more typical horror film, instead of the slowly paced work of art that The Witch is.

Eggers pays special attention to period accurate set designs, costumes, and dialogue, all of which helps to draw the audience into the film and immerse us in the setting, making the film all the more scary and unsettling. Robert Eggers is tied to the Nosferatu remake, but it does not have a firm release date.


2. David Robert Mitchell

It Follows

David Robert Mitchell made his first feature film in 2010, with The Myth of the American Sleepover, but the director truly gained notoriety with the 2014 horror film It Follows. It Follows may have a clear John Carpenter influence, but the film also puts forward a unique story and takes the horror genre in a bold direction. Mitchell perfectly utilizes gorgeous cinematography, chilling musical score, and a great cast in his distinctive horror film.

It is tough to put your thumb on It Follows, a horror film with very few jump scares, is it an allegory for the collapse of Detroit, an STD parable, or symbolic of sexual stigma? Maybe all of the above, it could be discussed for hours and that’s what makes Mitchell brilliant. His next film is the thriller Under the Silver Lake is set to release in 2017 and stars Andrew Garfield and Dakota Johnson.


1. Richard Ayoade

The Double

You may not know his name, but you probably recognize his face from his acting work in The Watch and the IT Crowd. In addition to his roles in these films and TV shows, Ayoade has also directed two distinctive and beautiful films with Submarine in 2010 and The Double in 2013. Each film received positive reception from critics but were not distributed widely in theaters.

Ayoade has shown with these two films that he is more than capable of crafting original stories and creating a vibrant visual feel. The young director’s films so far are all so layered and ambitious that it is hard to believe he is at the beginning of his career instead of an old master. Ayoade was also the director of one episode of the popular TV show Community.

Author Bio: Brian Sykes is a writer and cinephile from Knoxville, Tennessee. He enjoys sports, travelling, and watching movies for days on end.